Monday, September 7

Bangkok bombings: Role of corrupt Thai immigration police

The following Bangkok Post report provides more information from the questioning of Mieraili and the latest in the investigation, including questioning of two Indian nationals and release of a police sketch of another suspect. But it's the closing paragraphs that are the most chilling; they point to the large role that corrupt Thai immigration police played in the criminal network getting a foothold in the country.  

Yet note comments about the report from two Thai readers - screenames Ozopinion and DutchAjarn -- at the website. The rampant illegal immigration and corruption that encouraged it are an old story in Thailand.....

The banality of evil

"The Uighur suspect Yusufu Mieraili, 25, captured last week while trying to get to Cambodia, told military interrogators he handed off the Erawan shrine killer bomb to the man in the yellow T-shirt just before the blast. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)"

[Pundita note:  According to ABC News Australia 9/7 report 9:30am local time, "Police have not revealed his nationality, although he was caught in possession of a Chinese passport with a birthplace listed as Xinjiang — home to the country's oppressed Uighur Muslim minority."]

8 September 2015 - 3:47pm local time
The Bangkok Post

Erawan shrine blast suspect Yusufu Mieraili has admitted to delivering the backpack containing the bomb to the yellow-shirted suspect who left it in the Ratchaprasong area, causing the deadly explosion on August 17, police sources say.

Arrest warrants were issued for two more suspects Monday and officials have also detained two Indian nationals for questioning.

Mr Mieraili, 25, was transferred Monday from the 11th Military Circle to the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) for further questioning.

The investigation into the Erawan shrine attack, which killed 20 people and injured 130, pinpointed a man in a yellow T-shirt captured on CCTV cameras as the prime suspect.

Another blast took place at Sathon pier the following day, but caused no casualties.

A man wearing a blue shirt was identified as a suspect on CCTV footage.

Police sources said Mr Mieraili confessed to being part of the network which planted the bombs.

Mr Mieraili said he had seen both the yellow- and blue-shirted men at the Pool Anant apartment in Nong Chok district, where a haul of bomb-making material was seized last week, but he denied knowing the names of the men.

He allegedly confessed to passing the bomb-laden rucksack to the yellow-shirted suspect, who got out of a taxi at Hua Lamphong railway station and travelled by tuk-tuk to the shrine where he is thought to have planted the bomb.

Mr Mieraili's passport shows he is a Chinese national from the Xinjiang region, which is home to ethnic Uighurs. [Pundita note: Is it now definite the passport is geunine?] He told investigators his parents still live in the region.

Mr Mieraili decided to confess to the crimes because he feared he would be sent back to China, said the source, adding that the suspect prefers to be prosecuted in Thailand rather than be sent back to China.

In addition, investigators gleaned from questioning him that 10-12 people were involved in the bombings.

Also on Monday, two new arrest warrants were issued -- for Abdullah Abdulrahman, 180cm tall, and another unidentified man. The warrant for Mr Abdulrahman is based on an identikit sketch. 

"The 11th and 12th arrest warrants in the Erawan shrine terrorist bombing were issued Monday for Abdullah Abdulrahman, left, and an unidentified man. The warrants imply they may also have information about the explosion at the Sathon pier on Aug 18. (Photos courtesy of Royal Thai Police)"

Police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said the pair were also tenants of Room 412 and 414 at the Pool Anant apartment. 

They face charges of possessing illegal explosive substances and military hardware without having a licence.

The announcement of the new suspects brings the total number of suspects in the case to 12 -- 10 of whom remain at large.

Meanwhile, two Indian nationals were hauled in for questioning after they were seen on CCTV footage at the Maimuna apartment building frequently speaking with Mr Mieraili, a police source said.

The pair stayed in a room near the one where urea-based fertiliser and other items for bomb-making were discovered on Aug 30.

The Indian men's passports were genuine, and they had met Mr Mieraili at the apartment building, according to investigators.

Meanwhile, National Police Chief Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang called a meeting with the heads of 54 immigration police checkpoints countrywide.

A source who attended the meeting said Pol Gen Somyot was angry with immigration officers for allowing bomb suspects to enter the country illegally.

Pol Gen Somyot said some immigration police benefited from illegally allowing foreigners to overstay their visas in Thailand.

Officers give student visas to foreigners to teach at bogus schools for 12,000-15,000 baht, the source said, citing the police chief.

Other officials have accepted bribes from foreigners in order to enter the country illegally, he added.

Some immigration officers also unlawfully give entry stamps to migrants who use Thailand as a transit country while seeking access to third countries, the source said.



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